Best CPU for NVIDIA RTX 3070 Windows Central 2022

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 is a powerful GPU that appeals to gamers who want to crush high-end games without overspending. Of course, the best graphics cards are incredibly hard to find at a regular list price, but that's beside the point; you already have the GPU and want to pair it with a proper processor! Here are a bunch of options that won't hold back the RTX 3070 from achieving its true potential.

AMD Ryzen 9 5950X SE

AMD's superstar: AMD Ryzen 9 5950X CPU

Staff pick

Want to go all-out with AMD performance? The AMD Ryzen 9 5950X might be overkill for most people, but if you have the budget it's going to absolutely crush anything you throw its way. It has 16 cores, 32 threads, and a 105W TDP with ceiling available for overclocking. It works with the AM4 socket, and it has DDR4 RAM and PCIe 4.0 support.

Intel Core i9-12900K

Intel's powerhouse: Intel Core i9-12900K CPU

Editor's choice

Intel's Core i9-12900K is a major competitor for the Ryzen 9, with a lower price and comparable performance. It uses Intel's new big.LITTLE hybrid core design, it runs at a 125W TDP, it's overclockable, and it brings DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support. A new LGA 1700 socket is required, meaning you will need to also invest in a new motherboard no matter your old build.

Ryzen 7 5800X

Best value AMD: AMD Ryzen 7 5800X CPU

The Ryzen 7 5800X isn't quite as powerful as the i7-12700K, but it's less expensive and will still easily keep up with the RTX 3070. It has 8 cores, 16 threads, and a 105W TDP. It's overclockable and it supports DDR4 RAM and PCIe 4.0. Thanks to the AM4 socket, you can use it with older AMD motherboards to help keep the cost down.

Intel Core I7 12700k

Best value Intel: Intel Core i7-12700K CPU

The Core i7-12700K easily beats the Ryzen 7 5800X in most benchmarks, but it does cost a bit more. The DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support set it up nicely for the future, but it does require a new motherboard to accommodate the LGA 1700 socket. It uses Intel's big.LITTLE hybrid design, with 12 total cores and 20 threads. It runs at a 125W TDP.

AMD Ryzen 5 5600X SE

Best affordable AMD: AMD Ryzen 5 5600X CPU

The Ryzen 5 is about the same price as the Core i5-12600K, but it doesn't bring quite as much power with its 6 cores and 12 threads. Still, the lower 65W TDP, PCIe 4.0 support, and overclocking ceiling will appeal to many. Especially with the AM4 socket that doesn't absolutely require a new motherboard if you're upgrading from an older AMD build.

Intel Core I5 12600k

Best affordable Intel: Intel Core i5-12600K CPU

The Intel Core i5-12600K is an incredible mid-range CPU that beats out the Ryzen 5 in most benchmarks. It costs about the same amount, but you will have to factor in a new motherboard with LGA 1700 socket. DDR5 RAM and PCIe 5.0 support set you up well for the future, and it benefits from the same big.LITTLE hybrid design as the other 12th Gen Intel CPUs.

Building a PC around the NVIDIA RTX 3070

The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 is a top choice for any gamers out there looking for a high-end gaming experience without overspending. That is disregarding the current state of the GPU market, which is rife with scalpers and insane prices. If you're searching out new CPUs, chances are you already have an RTX 3070 and are now looking for further upgrades.

Any of the best CPUs in this list will do a great job accompanying the RTX 3070, and you have some choices to make depending on your budget. The Ryzen 9 5950X or the Core i9-12900K will both set you up nicely for the future, with total overkill performance that will remain relevant years into the future. These chips are mostly reserved for enthusiasts, with a price tag to reflect the performance.

For the best value out there, the Ryzen 7 5800X and Core i7-12700K are both top options. They're also incredibly powerful CPUs that will crush modern gaming and specialized work. And if you'd rather spend closer to $300, the Ryzen 5 5600X and Core i5-12600K will both get the job done at a lesser performance level.

Note that when you're buying the newest 12th Gen Intel Core "Alder Lake" CPUs you will need to also invest in a new motherboard with LGA 1700 socket. Older Intel motherboards will not work with these new chips. Our collections of the best motherboards for Core i5-12600K and best motherboards for Core i7-12700K can help.

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